Extension Agent: There are factors to consider when planting fruit, nut varieties in Victoria

Feb. 1, 2011 at midnight
Updated Jan. 31, 2011 at 8:01 p.m.

By Joe Janak

Many homeowners new to Victoria, and even those who just got the urge to grow fruits, nuts and other landscape plants around their home, ask, "What fruits can I grow here?" Or if they have lived here a while and have experimented with their known favorites, they ask, "Why can't I grow blueberries or peaches like I did at my old home?"

The type of fruit or nut, or for that matter, nearly every plant species that you grow, may depend on several factors, such as the climate in your area, your soil type, the amount of care the plants require - or you are willing to supply - and of course, your personal preference. Still though, if you are used to eating cherry red apples or growing Vinifera Chardonnay grapes for wine, like they do in the northern regions of the state, you will have to rethink your priorities and settle for what will grow locally with minimal problems.

Extension, research specialists and commercial and home gardeners have tried and tested many different varieties of nearly all plant specimens. There is no reason to go and "re-invent the wheel," so let's just take from what they have already learned.

With the winter season here, many garden and nursery centers now have ample supplies of these plants on hand. Some of these are sold "bare root," meaning no soil is around the roots and the roots are packed in a sawdust type filler. This is just fine and the most economical means of getting landscape or fruit and nut trees established. Container trees work, too, but are usually higher priced. Time is running out on getting these planted, so act quickly.

Remember these tips when planting. Always immediately prune off or thin back to of the top growth of all bare root trees when planting. This is a "must" to compensate for the loss of more than 90 percent of the roots when digging for sale. It's better to start off with a 36 inch tall by - inch diameter trunk sticking out of the ground without any branches on it if it is a bare root tree, than to plant it and not prune off any branches.

Don't dig the hole deeper than the root depth so the bottom of the roots sit on the hard soil. This will prevent it from sinking deep as you water; and planting deep is not good. In fact, research shows it is better to plant it just a bit above the soil grade or level. But dig the hole wide: up to two or three times wider than the root system. This loose soil around the roots, not below the roots, is what allows the tree to grow fast.

Never put any amendments in the soil, especially in heavy clay soils, except water and possibly a root stimulator unless you are planting in deep sugar-sand soil. Other fillers, such as sand, peat moss or organic matter, will allow too much water to collect and drown the new, fragile roots. Don't fertilize the tree the first year at all unless excessive growth (over one foot) has resulted by May. Then use only a very low rate. Check the soil moisture frequently and water as needed.

Now, let's go back to the recommended varieties. Generally, what is recommended for Victoria County will also apply for the counties east, south and southwest of Victoria. DeWitt and Lavaca counties, though, are rated somewhat cooler and drier and as a result, may have slightly different recommendations from what is listed. Other fruit and nut trees that are not listed either do not grow in the Victoria area or do so poorly that management would be very high.


The 2011 Soybean Production Conference, sponsored by Texas AgriLife Extension and the Texas Soybean Association, will be held at the El Campo Civic Center, 2350 N. Mechanic St. in El Campo, on Thursday in conjunction with the association's 44th annual business session. All soybean producers are invited to attend this free event. Registration will begin at 9 a.m., and the program will start at 9:30 a.m. The program is scheduled to conclude with lunch and offer three CEUs for TDA pesticide applicators.

Speakers and topics include: Soybean Variety Development for the Texas Gulf Coast, James Thomas, Hornbeck Seed Co., DeWitt, AR; Texas Gulf Coast Soybean Planting Date Study, James Grichar, Texas AgriLife Research, Beeville; Weed Management Strategies in Soybeans, Dr. Paul Baumann, state weed specialist, Texas AgriLife Extension Service; Insect Management in Texas Soybeans, M.O. Way, professor and entomologist, Texas AgriLife Research, Beaumont; Soybean Disease Update, and Tom Isakeit, plant pathologist, Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

Joe Janak is a Victoria County extension agent.



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